Federal Relations

December 5, 2016

Home for the Holidays?

The plan is for Congress to finish all its work for the year this week, with a stopgap spending measure to fund the government through next Spring. When in Spring? That’s still a very good question. 

The House Republicans held a conference meeting on Friday that did not resolve how long the stopgap should last or precisely what level of spending it should allow. Without conference agreement, only a handful of House and Senate GOP leaders and staff will decide the substance of a bill that will shape government spending for at least the better part of the current fiscal year. 

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said his goal is to complete all House action by Thursday, but the true deadline is this midnight on Friday, December 9th. That is when the previous CR expires. Failure to pass a new bill would trigger a government shutdown. The new measure will most likely extend current funding levels for most federal agencies through sometime between March and May. A precise timeline had yet to be decided.

Writing the continuing resolution, which generally forbids any new projects, also requires including provisions that allow agencies to make adjustments in their spending to meet changing needs; these are called anomalies. The Pentagon already has complained to budget writers that a long-term stopgap risks doing harm to needed weapons programs and troops currently deployed overseas. While each CR does have a limited amount of anomalies, do not expect broad sweeping increases, such as a multi-billion increase to NIH

As the House takes the first steps on the CR, the Senate will consider both 21st Century Cures and the NDAA conference report this week.